Falmouth Chamber Players Orchestra Fall Concerts November 5 and 6

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Photo by Dorene Sykes Photography

The Falmouth Chamber Players Orchestra, John Yankee, music director, will present its fall concerts on Saturday, November 5, at 4 PM, and Sunday, November 6, at 2 PM, at John Wesley United Methodist Church, at the corner of Gifford Street and Jones Road in Falmouth.

The orchestra will perform Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, “From the New World” and George Frideric Handel’s Coronation Anthem No. 4, “Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened,” which features the Falmouth Chorale Chamber Singers, as well as Giovanni Gabrieli’s “Canzon Septimi Toni No. 2” for brass and organ and Mozart’s “Gran Partita” Serenade for Winds.

“This is a very special program,” said John Yankee. “The listener will be able to enjoy our orchestra in distinct groups in the first half: trumpets, trombones, and organ in the Gabrieli; reed instruments and horns in the Mozart; strings, flutes—plus voices, in the Handel. Each of these works are masterpieces in their own right, and utterly enjoyable.

“In the second half, we put all these forces together and add percussion to present Dvorak’s 9th. My hope is that the combination of timbres and colors—heard earlier in shorter works of earlier periods—will only add to the impact, beauty, and power of the ‘New World’ symphony—one of the greatest works of the late romantic period.”

Giovanni Gabrieli was one of the most influential composers of his day; his “Canzon Septimi Toni No. 2,” composed in 1597, is considered to have set the stage for the new Baroque concerto style. The work comes from a collection of music that Gabrieli composed for the St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, where he was organist and principal composer from 1585 until his death in 1612.

The piece, originally written for two brass quartets, will be performed by brass quintet and organ, positioned on opposite sides to the hall to create the antiphonal effect of two separate choirs, as intended by Gabrieli.

Mozart’s Serenade No. 10 for winds in B-flat major, K. 361/370a (“Gran Partita”) is scored for 12 wind instruments—two oboes, two clarinets, two basset horns (alto clarinets), two bassoons, four horns—and string bass. Composed in 1781 or 1782, is considered one of the greatest examples of Harmoniemusik: works for wind ensembles. The FCPO will play the final two movements of the seven-movement piece: Theme and Variations and Finale/Rondo.

The Serenade has been featured in a number of television and film productions, notably the 1984 film “Amadeus,” in which Antonio Salieri hears the piece and says, “This was no composition by a performing monkey. This was a music I’d never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing. It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God.”

The Falmouth Chorale Chamber Singers, also under the direction of John Yankee, will join the Falmouth Chamber Players Orchestra on “Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened.” The anthem was written for the coronation of George II of England and Queen Caroline of Ansbach, which took place on October 11, 1727. The original performance included 47 singers and an orchestra of up to 160 musicians.

The anthem has a grand and cheerful opening movement, followed by a lyrical and expressive middle section, and a rousing Allelujah. “The piece has a nice Baroque style, and it’s great to perform with the Chamber Singers,” said Laura Sonnichsen, vice-president of the orchestra.

The New World Symphony, as it is commonly known, is Dvorak’s most popular symphony, and one of the most popular symphonies every written. It was composed in 1893, while the Czech composer was director of the National Conservatory of Music of America.

Dvorak evoked the spirit African American and Native American melodies in the symphony, though did not incorporate the melodies themselves. “In the Negro melodies of America, I discover all that is needed for a grand and noble school of music,” he said, and suggested that American composers also turn to African-American spirituals for inspiration, much as Dvorak himself was inspired by Bohemian folk music and earlier classical music.

Largo, the second movement, opens with a powerful progression of chords from the brass and low woodwinds, leading into the famous English horn solo, performed by Melanie Hayn. The melody was later adapted by William Arms Fisher as the hymn, “Goin’ Home.”

“One of the things I find most engaging about the symphony is how Dvorak uses variants of themes from different movements at key moments, bringing all the movements together into a compelling whole,” said Hayn.

A donation of $20 is suggested for adults, $5 for students. For more information, contact Fritz Sonnichsen at 508-274-2632 or visit FalmouthChamberPlayers.org.

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